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Alora, Malaga Towns
Set in a beautiful part of the Guadalhorce Valley, Álora is a very appealing little white town.
There is a hilltop Moorish castle as a backdrop, citrus groves and vegetable gardens all around, and pretty, well-kept streets of traditional whitewashed houses, and yet it is only 40 kilometres inland from Málaga city and the Costa del Sol. No wonder Álora and the surrounding countryside, also known as the ‘Valle del Sol’ (Sun Valley) is becoming increasingly popular with foreign expatriates seeking to invest in property.
There were settlers in the Álora area as far back as prehistoric times, and the Turdetans and then the Phoenicians set up colonies in the fertile valley in what were strategic locations on natural routes between the coast and inland.
Between 81 and 96AD the village was an important Roman settlement, known as Iluro. A major trading centre for wheat, barley, honey, wine and oil, Alora even minted its own coins.The most important remant of this period is a metre-high monolith which now stands on the terrace of the parish church, and on which the words ‘Municipium Iluritanum’ are still visible.
In the 5th century the Vandals conquered the village, and it is believed they were the first to build a substantial castle on top of the Las Torres hill. Under the Arabs the village’s name changed to ‘Alura’, and the fortification was extended. Alora’s Moorish past is clearly stamped on the old quarter’s layout, with its steep, winding streets leading up to the old castle.
The castle gained a reputation as an impregnable fortress during the Moorish occupation following various failed sieges by the Christians over the centuries, and was the subject of the Ballad of Alora, the words of which are carved on a tablet embedded in the castle walls, which refers to the town as “the well besieged." It was finally conquered by Christian troops on June 10 1484 after nine days of combat.
The ruins of the castle, from where there are views for miles, dominate the village. Two towers and an iron arch in the wall remain, and the town cemetery is located within the old enclosure. It was declared a national monument in 1931.
Alora’s other most emblematic building is the Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación Parish Church in the Plaza Baja de la Despedía. It took nearly 100 years to build the church, which is one of the biggest in the province; construction began in 1600 and was not completed until 1699.
The cemetery chapel, which dates back to the late 15th century when the Christians conquered the town from the Moors, was originally the parish church, and was built on the foundations of a former mosque within the castle grounds. An earthquake left the original church in ruins in 1680, as well as destroying the older districts of the town.
The small 16th century Veracruz hermitage in Calle Veracruz was built to commemorate the victory over the Moriscos (Moors who converted to Christianity after the Reconquest) who rebelled.
The Nuestra Señora Flores convent is two kilometres outside the town at the top of a hill. Originally built in the 16th century and restored in the 18th century, there are superb panaromic views of the Guadalhorce Valley from the convent. A building known as the Humilladero Cross, which commemorates the symbolic handing over of the keys of Álora by the last Arab mayor to the Catholic Monarchs in 1484, is located close by.
There are also several other hermitages in the municipality. The Hermitage of the Crosses in the mountains east of the town is where the Crosses of May processions for Álora, Almogía, Cártama and Álora are held. Each of the four towns has a small altar inside the hermitage.
The 16th century Santa Brígida Hermitage is next to the station and the contemporary Calvario Hermitage, built to house the image of Nuestro Señor del Huerto, is in Calle Calvario.
With a population of less than 8,500, Álora town is a very easy place in which to live, with easy communications to the provincial capital, the coast and other parts of Andalucía via road or rail.
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Alora is one of the many towns in the beautiful region of Malaga Spain. Discover Costa del Sol with the history, local information, property sales and holiday listings at Viva-Malaga.com